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This Ridesharing Mess Is Just A Symptom Of Our Cancerous Public Transport System

I hate that it’s come to this

If you’ve been on your Facebook feed anytime within the past few weeks, you know that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is cracking down on Transport Network Vehicles (TNVs) of both Uber and Grab for not having the correct franchises or licenses to operate. There’s overwhelming public sentiment against the LTFRB’s decision that will become executory on July 26, which would effectively cripple the fleet both Uber and Grab.

While I’m symphatetic for the plight of people affected by this crackdown, I think a larger issue is being ignored here, and that’s the ridiculously rotten public transport system we current have in the Philippines. I’ve been to enough foreign countries to know that riding cars isn’t the ideal way to transport large amount of people from point a to point b. Cars take up too much of the road and are generally an inefficient way of transportation in cities.

I spent around a week in Taiwan this year for COMPUTEX, and one of the biggest takeaways that I had in that city was how efficient it is getting around a metropolis when you have a public transport system that is firing on all cylinders. Their metro rail system is fast, pleasant and is friendly to both locals and foreigners. Despite constantly riding the metro during rush hour, I never felt my being was violated in any way, shape or form – which is something you’d expect when you try riding our MRT.

While I was there, I took a taxi ONCE. Public transportation was so convenient that taking the train over taking a taxi was a no brainer. It was cheaper, easier to use, and in some cases faster than hailing a cab or Uber.

And that’s what we need to strive for in this country. Uber and Grab has a lot of support from people because they’re the most convenient and safe option for a lot of working professionals in the country. Our mass transport system is a joke, and not a funny kind. Dilapidated buses, a train system that’s ridiculously anarchaic and is prone to breakage, taxis that think they’re the kings of the road – all of those things combined to make Uber and Grab the preferred choice of people who’ve grown tired of our shitty system.

And all of the blame rests on the LTFRB, and ultimately the government. The LTFRB should have been leading the charge in trying to make things easier for commuters by putting taxis in line and ensuring that public vehicles plying the roads are safe and comfortable. They should have been the ones pushing to abolish the criminal boundary system that incentivices reckless driving and enriches operators at the expense of their drivers. They should have been the ones looking to change the system, not keep it planted firmly in the last century.

Should you be angry at what’s happening with Uber and Grab? Sure. But you should be damned furious that they’re the only sensible public transport option left.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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8 Comments

  1. 1. Overpopulated / too congested metro. (Can we ask the masses to just leave MM, hehehe).
    2. Recent economic progress = affordability and proliferation of cars.
    3. Inadequate and dilapidated road infra.
    4. Antiquated, irrational and near-sighted urban physical planning (if there is one) that persisted for ages.
    5. Mismanaged rapid mass transport system; too little and too late implementation. PNR should have been it decades earlier.
    6. Boundary system may be regulated by government but it all boils down to the individual drivers’ character and /or discipline.

    ***all of the blame rests on LTFRB…??????

    You make such sweeping and grandiose generalizations in all your writing, particularly with this one, Mr. N.

    1. 1. Japan, Taiwan, Singapore have the same density problem and they’re doing just fine.
      2. Japan, Singapore have heavy fees/taxes for driving licenses and car ownership. LTFRB problem
      3. DPWH problem
      4. Urban planning is heavily hampered and delayed for decades because of squatters. NHA HUDCC problem
      5. LRTA and LTFRB problem
      6. I kind of agree, mostly desperate/dumb people with questionable decision-making would work in a lopsided boundary system. LTFRB should do something.

      Most of the blame should go to the bureau that is responsible for making sure Transportation and Franchises are in order. Not all of it, but most of it.

      1. Point number 1 is the gravest of them all and LTFRB has nothing to do with it.

        It is ultimately linked with point no. 4, our urban planning is chaotic, to say the least. Our Metro roads, for starters, are just too narrow and most of them don’t have symmetry, balance and logic.

        I have been to 2 of those countries you mentioned (Japan, 3 years; Singapore, about a month) and I have studied Transportation Policy in Japan as one of the subjects leading to a master’s degree. Don’t ask me where I am now or why don’t I help in solving the country’s ills ??.

  2. Oh, by the way, our train system is ridiculously ARCHAIC (old), not ANARCHAIC (leading to society’s unrest and disorder???!!!). Sabagay, pwede na rin ?????

  3. Points taken. Mr. Nieves is mad about LTFRB’s actions on TNVS and Mr. Delgra’s comments and suggestions when uber and grab ceases to operate. Nakakainis lang marinig galing sa chair ng LTFRB ang dahilan bakit hininto ang registration ng uber and grab drivers. Maraming applicants, un lang. At kung anu-ano na lang mga dahilan sinabi nila sa public. Common sense lang. Mag set sila ng temporary limit at pag usapan nila kung hanggang ilan lang talaga. Process nila papers using FCFS basis.

  4. Well, you guys have a very strong and clear point.

    But, here in LTFBR and together with LTO, we are proud to say to all of you netizens of Republic of
    the Philippines, keep on dreaming!..

    As long as were are here corrupting the system
    and pocketing the tax payers money in the best way
    we can rest assured your dream and hopes for a better transpo system WILL NEVER EVER COME TRUE. MARK OUR WORDS!! THATS FOR SURE.

    ALL WE ARE AFTER ARE CORRUPTED MONEY.. we dont care about our national transpo system becoz
    we dont have any consideration in the first place.

    As long as our president or our top leaders wont punish us to the point of totally eradicating these government agencies to make our transpo system
    better OR Totall implement very strict rules that will punish us all for bad and currpt deeds, we will be here thy kingdom come! Good guys..

    Yours sincerely,
    LTFRB / LTO management

  5. Well, you guys have a very strong and clear point.

    But, here in LTFRB and together with LTO, we are proud to say to all of you netizens of Republic of
    the Philippines, keep on dreaming!..

    As long as were are here corrupting the system
    and pocketing the tax payers money in the best way
    we can rest assured your dream and hopes for a better transpo system WILL NEVER EVER COME TRUE. MARK OUR WORDS!! THATS FOR SURE.

    ALL WE ARE AFTER ARE CORRUPTED MONEY.. we dont care about our national transpo system becoz
    we dont have any consideration in the first place.

    As long as our president or our top leaders wont punish us to the point of totally eradicating these government agencies to make our transpo system
    better OR Totall implement very strict rules that will punish us all for bad and currpt deeds, we will be here thy kingdom come! Good guys..

    Yours sincerely,
    LTFRB / LTO management

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